Senior serves as legislative page

Katie Koterba

When I turned 18, one of the many things I was excited about was the newfound ability to vote and participate in my local and national government. At the beginning of the year, although I knew I could vote in the upcoming elections and who the current governor was, I didn’t know much about government in Montana.

On Jan. 23-27, I had the opportunity to work as a page for the Montana House of Representatives. While I was in Helena serving at the Capitol, I learned about how government in the three branches works.

Before my experience as a page, I had very little understanding of what process a bill went through to become an official law that can be enforced in our state. Sitting on the floor of the house session was interesting because it taught me how a bill passed through the House and into the Senate to eventually became a law.

Being a page in the House also gave me the opportunity to network with influential adults from around the state, including both representatives, senators, lobbyists, and the Speaker of the House.

Besides just working for the Representatives, I got a chance to interact with officials from both the executive and judicial branches of the Montana government. On Wednesday morning, our page group met with Gov. Steve Bullock and Lt Gov. Mike Cooney to discuss the responsibilities that the Governor has before and during the legislative session.

Both Bullock and Cooney had an inspiring message for us students that if we wanted to become involved in Montana government, there is never a time too early to become involved. Later in the week, we met with Justice Baker and toured the Montana Supreme Court Building.

Our page group also visited the Montana Historical Society’s history museum and the dome at the top of the Capitol. I loved getting to go into the dome; the 360-degree views of Helena was definitely worth the 87-step spiral staircase to the floor of the dome.

The week as a page in the Montana House of Representatives was a unique opportunity that I think anyone interested in learning more about government should take. I learned so much in my short week in Helena and would recommend the opportunity to any current freshman or sophomore who would be eligible to participate as a page in the 66th legislative session.